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Why did the Tampa Bay Lightning sign Wendel Clark in 1998?

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04-30-2017, 10:42 AM
  #1
Michael Whiteacre
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Why did the Tampa Bay Lightning sign Wendel Clark in 1998?

Wendel Clark was limited to 47 games in '97-'98 when he had to spend much of that season dealing with groin injuries. Toronto had just signed Derek King away from the Hartford Whalers in the 1997 offseason, and then you have Sergei Berezin emerge as their top scoring LW. Those two factors in addition to Wendel Clark being plagued with injury, contributed to his depth chart placement status being a third-line LW.

Thus, Clark is on the third line with Steve Sullivan at C and the also newly-signed Igor Korolev (formerly of the Phoenix Coyotes) at RW. It is '97-'98 that Clark was limited to 12 goals and 7 assists equalling 19 points in 47 games of limited action.

That's why Toronto opted to move on once more from Wendel Clark when he became a free agent because they regretted having brought him back into the fold since the Mats Sundin trade, and Tampa Bay took a chance on him in the summer of 1998.

Toronto was a bad enough team that missed the '97-'98 playoffs in their last NHL season being a Western Conference team as Toronto would be shuffled out of the Western Conference in favor of the introduction of the Nashville Predators as an expansion team. But Tampa Bay was even worse than Toronto! For the fact that Tampa Bay had too many lower-tier players and former aging stars shuffling in and out of their lineup, and were ranked last overall. At least the Toronto Maple Leafs looked like they had a bright future with Mats Sundin, Sergei Berezin, Curtis Joseph, Alexander Karpovtsev, Steve Thomas, Bryan Berard and Tomas Kaberle.

What was Tampa's motivation for bringing Wendel Clark to their team? I can tell Wendel Clark had a healthy season in '98-'99 and he even had an All-Star berth in 1999 representing Tampa before he was dealt to the Detroit Red Wings along with fellow 1998 free agent signee Bill Ranford (formerly of the Washington Capitals).

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04-30-2017, 04:54 PM
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boredmale
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I can't speak on this personally but probably the same reason above average 4th liners get like 3M on the UFA market now

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04-30-2017, 08:35 PM
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FerrisRox
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I'm not sure I understand the question. It seems pretty obvious why a team would sign a 31-year old player with a history of scoring goals and providing leadership.

They signed a veteran winger with a lot of leadership skills (former captain) excellent wrist shot and grit to a very affordable contract to add much-needed scoring depth and leadership.

What's the mystery?

The Lightning were dead-last in the league in goals for the previous season with a paltry 151 goals. The next lowest team managed 41 more goals. The Bolts couldn't score to save their lives and desperately needed to find a way to inject more offence into the lineup.

They tried - and failed - to sign Ron Francis and Doug Gilmour as free agents then in the end landed Clark for $1.5 million (with a games played bonus) and were rewarded with a 28-goals before they dealt him to the Red Wings (which essentially was about rewarding him by giving him a playoff opportunity and relieved them of paying out the GP bonus.)

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04-30-2017, 10:33 PM
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Big Phil
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Clark was always that type of player that you took a gamble on that he would be healthy. Because if he was, then mission accomplished. He was injury prone, but you could also get the same Clark who had those two great playoff runs in 1993 and 1994. It didn't really work for the Lightning but the Red Wings picked him up at the trade deadline in 1999 and this was a team coming off two straight Cups. It just goes to show you that even the toast of the NHL at that time would take someone like Clark.

I know it was a long time before this, but Clark almost made the 1987 Canada Cup team. People loved what he brought to the table.

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04-30-2017, 10:44 PM
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Michael Whiteacre
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Now I'm starting to suspect that Tampa Bay didn't like the results they expected from LW performers like Alexander Selivanov and Rob Zamuner as their top two left wingers in '97-'98.

First they tried to rectify the flaws from Selivanov and Zamuner by making a midseason trade that put an end to Stephane Richer's second but short-lived stint in Montreal by trading for him. But Richer was a natural RW, but to be honest, he would've been much more productive than both Selivanov and Zamuner.

I'm guessing Wendel Clark was signed by Tampa as a way for Tampa to figure out how to put Stephane Richer back at his natural position of RW, and Wendel could fit the LW more.

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05-01-2017, 12:01 AM
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FerrisRox
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Michael Whiteacre View Post
Now I'm starting to suspect that Tampa Bay didn't like the results they expected from LW performers like Alexander Selivanov and Rob Zamuner as their top two left wingers in '97-'98.

First they tried to rectify the flaws from Selivanov and Zamuner by making a midseason trade that put an end to Stephane Richer's second but short-lived stint in Montreal by trading for him. But Richer was a natural RW, but to be honest, he would've been much more productive than both Selivanov and Zamuner.

I'm guessing Wendel Clark was signed by Tampa as a way for Tampa to figure out how to put Stephane Richer back at his natural position of RW, and Wendel could fit the LW more.
I don't think thats it.

They were desperate for goals, period. As I said before they were last in goals by a forty goal margin. They went after two centres - Ron Francis and Doug Gilmour - and failed so Clark was the next best thing left in the free agent pile. His position was irrelevant.

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05-01-2017, 11:05 AM
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tony d
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Probably to add toughness to that team. Don't know if they thought Lecavalier would step in and play right away in 1998 or not. Because if they did he could have been signed to be a policeman for Lecavalier.

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05-01-2017, 08:26 PM
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The Panther
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Why not sign Wendel Clark? You're know you're going to have a tough, talented winger for maybe 30 games per season.

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